Five Things to be Grateful for This Thanksgiving
But Thanksgiving is when we’re meant to express our thanks for everything we have to be grateful for—and in my life, that “everything” definitely includes sex. So in that spirit, I’ve cobbled together a list of five sexual things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but I still think each of them deserve a few props this Turkey Day.
The First Amendment
Thanks to the First Amendment, I can watch Blondes Behaving Badly in the comfort of my own living room, without being arrested on obscenity charges. I’m not sure if that’s the specific “freedom of speech” the Founding Fathers intended to protect when they penned the Bill of Rights, but that’s how it turned out, and I’m grateful for it.
Beyond the right to watch adult fare, the First Amendment gives every American the constitutionally protected right to “freedom of expression”—even if Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck don’t like what that expression is. It’s a constitutional soapbox that generations of activists have used to expand this country’s sexual freedoms. Even today, as we fight for female equality, defend the right to keep an abortion legal and demand equal treatment for gays and lesbians, it’s the First Amendment that protects us from censure. Without it, the voices of conservatism, entitlement and the establishment might drown us out.
But as much as it’s a gift, the First Amendment is also a responsibility. In order to protect our right to speak our minds, we’ve got to allow other people that same right—even if what they say is the absolute antithesis of everything we believe in.
Drumstick, Mr. O’Reilly?
When the oral contraceptive pill first went on the market in 1960, it changed the face of American sexuality forever. For the first time, women had control of their own reproductive functions without requiring the cooperation of their sexual partners. The Pill ushered in a new era in which women could enjoy an unprecedented level of sexual security. Now, they could have sex when they wanted, with whom they wanted, without risking an unwanted pregnancy as a result.
A couple of decades later, AIDS irrevocably changed the landscape of sexual liberation all over again—and revealed that there were more potential consequences to casual sex than just unwanted parenthood. However, the sense of freedom and sexual equality the pill granted hasn’t changed or diminished as a result—and that’s something that both women and men should be very grateful for.
Rubber condoms date back to the 1880s, around the time vulcanized rubber was invented. Other forms of condoms—including those made from lamb intestines, leather or oiled silk paper—date back even further, to 14th Century Asia.
But condoms only become an essential part of a responsible sexual wardrobe recently. It was during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s that we first realized that casual sex could carry deadly consequences. Since then, we’ve all had thousands of reasons to be thankful for condoms. (On a personal level, I’m grateful they let me survive my single years without contracting an STD or unwittingly siring any unplanned offspring.)
To some extent, condoms are what have kept the sexual revolution of the 1960s going. Just as the pill first allowed women to have sex without fear of the prevailing consequences of the day, carrying and using condoms now allows responsible men and women to engage in casual sex much more safely.
Lube, to put it succinctly, is the great facilitator that’s transformed the way we have modern sex. So many sexual acts—from pegging to fisting—have been made possible (or, at the very least, much more practical and pleasurable) thanks to the availability of lube. It’s allowed us to sexually express ourselves in unprecedented new ways, and redrawn the formerly narrow boundaries of sexual identity.
“Personal lubricants” are descended from the surgical ointments used in the early part of the 20th Century. Doctors and surgeons carried petroleum jelly, glycerin or hydroxyethyl cellulose to facilitate taking temperatures rectally, during vaginal examinations, and when inserting catheters.
It wasn’t long before people realized that surgical lubricants had other uses, too, and subsequent sexual experimentation helped personal lube evolve into the range of forms in which it exists today. Whether water-, oil- or silicone-based, nowadays, there’s a specific lube to suit just about any sexual application we can imagine. (And we can imagine quite a few!)
But it’s always worth mentioning that sometimes one must indulge in some research before trying out one’s favorite friction eliminator in a new arena. Not all lubes suit all purposes, and a lubricant that excels in one application might perform very badly in another. (For example, it’s a painful mistake to mix oil-based lubes with corrodible toys or condoms, or sensitive parts of the anatomy.)
As Dr. Cox, from the mega-hit TV show Scrubs, once declared: “The Internet is for Porn.” But in reality, the significance of the www goes a lot further than XXX.
Don’t get me wrong. Porn is a huge part of the World Wide Web—in fact, 80 percent by some estimates. The Internet has totally transformed the way we consume adult entertainment, bringing our personal kinks easily and anonymously within reach. (Hanker to hunker down for an invigorating viewing of Granny-Fuckin’ Midgets? Now it’s only a click away.)
But the ’net’s digitally delivered a whole lot more. Take, sex toys, for example. Less than a decade ago, the only way to get your hands on a vibrator was to slink into a sketchy shop with blacked out windows or respond to a vaguely worded ad in the back of a women’s magazine. These days, you can visit a hundred different online retailers and have your toys delivered discreetly to your door.
The Internet’s also streamlined seduction: Adult Friend Finder and Craigslist have made arranging casual, no-strings-attached sex easier than ever (if you can wade through the spam, pop-ups and perverts to get to the good stuff.) In fact, whether you met your partner on match.com, bought your vibrator from your favorite adult e-tailer, or just rubbed one out to the aforementioned granny/midget porn—it’s almost a given that at least two of your last three orgasms came directly, or indirectly, as a result of the Internet.
And what could be more thank-worthy than that?